Middlefield – For more than two years, the Middlefield Economic Development Committee (EDC) has been aggressively promoting the Village of Middlefield on a state and national level with the goal of attracting business and industry to the village. As a part of this initiative, the Committee contracted Cleveland State University’s Community Planning Program Manager Kirby Date to develop a retail market analysis for the village.
With more than 30 years experience in community planning, Date joined a class of 20-some CSU students and completed this project to satisfy a real estate and economic development requirement for her master’s degree. On Dec. 4, 2013, each student presented their final analysis to be judged, and the top five were chosen to present/compete before leaders of seven Cleveland area Real Estate Development companies at CSU. Kirby Date presented the retail assessment for Middlefield, won the competition and was awarded $1,500 of the $3,500 total donated.
At the January Middlefield Council meeting, Kirby presented the prize-winning market analysis. During the introduction, Middlefield Mayor Ben Garlich, stated, “Kirby Date took on this project at a personal level; we hired CSU for $1,000 and Kirby gave us a $10,000 value.” He added, “After reviewing the final analysis and hearing Kirby’s presentation, it has changed my mind-set about the direction this village will take, allowing us to move forward with a refined focus. We now have a better understanding of the demographics and will pursue many of the proposed solutions. It has been our goal to set this village apart as a place to live and to locate a business. This is another step in that direction.”
“The goals for this study,” Date stated, “were to lay groundwork for the Village of Middlefield’s comprehensive plan, to identify opportunities for retail, to fill retail vacancies and to strengthen the businesses already here.”
Findings showed that area residents shop elsewhere (Bainbridge, Mentor, Chardon, Ashtabula, Garrettsville and Niles) for additional selection and services. Three markets, local non-Amish; local Amish and regional/tourists, were considered for the niche analysis. Area retail needs are: clothing, health/personal care, shoes and jewelry. Other needs to consider (with caution) are: electronics/TV, office supplies, auto parts, and building and garden supplies. The analysis showed this area is adequately supplied with restaurants, hardware, home furnishings and specialty foods.
The primary recommended strategy is to attract outside shoppers by: creating a “Great Place” in downtown Middlefield; rebuilding the Main Street charm; accommodating overnight visitors; offering family attractions; growing the farmer’s market; connecting open spaces; promoting Amish businesses; encouraging and supporting local entrepreneurs, addressing local needs for clothing, selection/price and entertainment; through seeking creative, one-of-a-kind solutions, and proactively identify and seek businesses that will complement the area.
This project has been a wonderful experience for me,” Date shared. “After working with small communities for years, this was an opportunity for me to understand more about how a community really works.”
To view the Middlefield Retail Market Analysis visit www.middlefieldmeansbusiness.com.